July 12, 2011

How Google Plus can help nonprofits connect with supporters

  • Buffer
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A 36-second video explaining Google+’s new video conferencing feature.

google plus logoJohn HaydonIf you’re reading this and work for a nonprofit, you may not want to hop onto the Google Plus bandwagon – especially if your peanut butter is already spread too thin.

However, if have time and you’re the curious type, go for it! As Andy Huston suggests, “Experiment personally then apply professionally.”

Just know that the vast majority of your constituents will continue to be on Facebook for a long time.

2 ways Google Plus will change how you connect

Though it is early, there are a couple of features that stand out about Google+: Hangouts and Circles.

Hangouts – Hangouts is a way to conduct group video conferencing with other Google+ users.

With Circles, Google puts segmentation up front in their product – and they make it fun!

I can see Hangouts creating a paradigm shift in how organizations connect with their supporters. Imagine key staff (the ones who can effectively represent the organization) posting “open office hours” where G+ users can pop into a Hangout and chat with them face to face about critical topics.

Here’s what Danielle Brigida of the National Wildlife Federation had to say about Google Plus in general:

star focus

Circles – Facebook and Twitter both allow users to put various different people in specific groupings or lists. But how many people use or even know about Facebook friends lists? The same goes for Twitter. Circles, on the other hand, put segmentation up front in their product – and they make it fun!

I could see organizations segmenting their donors, volunteers, partners into a various different circles.

Here’s what Andy Huston had to say:

Social media is about people, not technology

If you’re messing around with Google Plus, or have decided to wait until the early adopters flush out the bugs, a few basic principles stay true:

  • People use social media to connect with other people, not technology. When was the last time you felt truly understand and appreciated by your laptop?
  • Social media is less important than your story and how well you can tell it. If you don’t have a good story to tell, having a megaphone is useless.
  • Fish where the fish are. Right now, mostly the geeks and other uncool kids are using Google+. It remains to be seen whether Google+ will be adopted by the masses, so spend your time on the platforms (Facebook) with the people who love you.
  • Also see Frank Barry’s article called Social Media Best Practices: 12 Tips for Making the Best of Any Social Site.

In short, stay interested in where Google+ is going, but don’t spend huge resources on it right now.

How do you see nonprofits using Google Plus?


How to get started with Google Plus and Circles (Socialbrite)John Haydon delivers social web strategy solutions for “the quick, the smart, and the slightly manic.” Curious? Then visit the John Haydon blog, follow him on Twitter or leave a comment.

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One thought on “How Google Plus can help nonprofits connect with supporters

  1. I think it is totally busted for social activism in this early stage – without the ability to carry on a sustained conversation about issue, lack of community features, and the fact that sparks does not do exact search – means that it will be difficult to activists to organize and connect. This may change down the road, but for now most activist organizations are approaching this with wait and see, caution, and waiting until it evolves …. https://plus.google.com/107965826228461029730/posts/iNFuZkAwwxa